1971 Kawasaki H1A mach III (499cc transverse two-stroke triple)


60 bhp, 382 lbs, 115 mph


During the mid 1960s, the USA had become the largest motorcycle market. American riders were demanding bikes with more horsepower and higher maximum speeds. Honda introduced its Honda CB450 in 1965 and in 1969, the Suzuki T500 Cobra appeared. Already familiar with the Honda CB450, Kawasaki development began work on the top secret N100 Plan in 1967. The goal was to produce a motorcycle with 500cc displacement that was able to develop 60hp and lay down 13-second quarter-mile times, then considered over the achievable limit for a road bike. The Mach III appeared in the U.S. in 1969. The engine developed was a three-cylinder two stroke with a displacement of 499 cc. Fuel and air mixing was provided by three Mikuni VM 28 mm carburetors.


The bike was in many respects very successful and gained a huge reputation. It had outrageous performance for a 500, the best power-to-weight ratio of any bike at the time and could do a sub 13 second quarter mile. But it also had some noteworthy flaws: an under engineered frame leading to handling challenges and inadequate brakes for the performance - these characteristics gave rise to it sometimes being known as the "widow maker". It also has an odd gearbox, with neutral below first.


This bike was acquired in the UK in 2013 and restored by 2WheelsMiklos with paint done by Cycle Sprays. It has matching numbers and the restoration is faithful to the original. The performance is impressive for a +40 year old machine - but of course no longer breathtaking, given how motorcycling has moved on in the interim.

1971 Kawasaki Mach III H1A